The time has passed to ask “can we learn anything from the Qatari?” Today we have to ask what we should learn. Certainly, Polish breeding and the community around it are in a situation where we have to follow the example of others more and more often, because Poland is no longer a model for the world. According to the principle of never saying never, there is hope that it will not be irretrievable. The show in Doha, which ended last weekend, set new standards, also for its biggest competitor, the United Arab Emirates.
Thanks to the involvement of the state organization Qatar Foundation, the second edition of the show, called the Katara International Arabian Horse Festival, has become an event with an extremely high set of standards. The correct division of tasks and their efficient execution by friendly and professional people wearing “organizer” tags were visible to the naked eye.
The guests from Europe liked the rich decor of the stands, which at the same time was devoid of splendor and gilded handles. One should pay attention and even take an example from the level of aesthetics and visual aspect of the entire project. In their pursuit of continuous progress, the Qatari did not hesitate to make staff changes in their flagship stud, which is Al Shaqab Stud. For the second time in the history of the stud, the “immortal” Sheik Hamad was removed from its management in favor of younger, and at the same time talented managers.
One should not so much learn as copy the order that prevailed during the KIAHF. The guests were treated with respect and elegance. The media invited to cover the event had their rights and obligations, delicately but firmly defined by the organizer. For everyone living by the Vistula River, the behavior of the undoubtedly free media, but those coming from around the world, for example from the USA, Italy or Germany, must be encouraging. First of all, every participant, guest and journalist covering the event knew their place at the show, and deviations were not tolerated – an Egyptian journalist for entering the wrong sector was temporarily removed from the show. What the hosts pointed out to the media representatives was their role in reporting the event in such a way as not to disturb its course and not to disturb the guests, i.e. those for whom the event was organized, hence the recommendation to visit the designated this zones and at designated times.
Honesty is priceless
Thanks to very high financial prizes, it was possible to bring the best Arabian horses to the show. The image of fair competition was taken care of. It might seem that a certain expression of distrust towards customs often reigning at other shows, was inviting a huge number of judges. There were twelve of them in the ring at the same time! The presence in the main ring at the same time of ringmasters, DC members and (few in this case, only three) photographers meant that too often the horses that were to be the most important actors were lost in the crowd of people.
There were somewhat lengthy breaks between evaluation and decoration. Nowadays, when abacus can only be found in museums, such a delay in reporting the results must be surprising. It is hard to say whether it was the organizer’s fault, or rather the rituals of ECAHO. The announcement of organizing the World Championships in 2023 and 2025 in Qatar instead of Paris, which the organizers are extremely proud of, definitely brought a lot of liveliness to the atmosphere!
Meanwhile, the analysis of judging is also astonishing. The judges, as we know, can and have the right to see the same horse differently. However, the rating of Gall of Shanghai for movement, where one judge grants a maximum of 20 points, and another only 18.5 points, merits the question of what the whole judging is about. There are a lot of such “flowers” – in almost every case there are discrepancies of 1.5 points between grades. The scores for the body and top line of the class-winner stallion EKS Mansour ranged from 17.5 to 19 points. So did the mentioned EKS Mansour have an almost perfect (19 points) body, or just barely acceptable (17.5)? Unfortunately, we will not find out from the judges. The extensive evaluation system, entrusted to so many judges this time, does not help breeders and dilutes responsibility for the result. It ruthlessly selects the winners and indicates the losers, but is this type of demonstration ranking good for breeding?
Recognizing the Qatar show as one of the most important events of this type in the world, and thus the gathering of the best horses, causes a bitter reflection as to the place of Polish breeding among a number of other countries, both in terms of breeding quality, organization and number of shows. Two horses by Equator bred by Aljassimya Farm and one by Pesal – Girlan-Bey, bred by Michał Bogajewicz, and also Fuerte by Shaghai E.A., bred by Jan Dobrzyński. It is a pity, however, that the Polish-bred stallions mentioned here did not appear in the ring in the end.
We saw extremely strong classes of older horses, where at least one World Champion or All Nations Cup Champion competed in each of them, or even several in the same class. Choosing the winners had to be emotional. Due to the absence of the stallion Hariry Al Shaqab entered for the show, the duel was played out between E.S. Harir, representing Al Wajba Stud, and EKS Alihandro of Aljassimya Farm. The excellent E.S. Harir, in the elegant type of desert but strong horse, had to give way to EKS Alihandro, which not only presented a more masculine type with a clearly better neck, but also had his day, showing the audience his expressive strength and almost perfect build.
The son of EKS Alihandro, not the youngest (ten years old), EKS Mansour, took a very good third place. However, he does not seem to be able to repeat his father’s successes. He is also very showy, but too down-to-earth and with a different build and a more triangular neck.
The lack of suitable stallions in Poland, and thus the use of the same sires available abroad, is not confirmed here. In fact, there was no dominance of a specific, one sire among the horses on the podium in the championship, which is the best proof of the breeding competition. Only D Seraj introduced his three offspring there (including two with gold medals) as well as Marwan Al Shaqab and Excalibur E.A. with two offspring.
In general, Arabian stars disappointed a bit, because neither the offspring of Wadee Al Shaqab, Emerald J, Shanghai E.A. or RFI Farid was not on the podium of the championship. Was there a change of guard also among the best sires?
It is worth emphasizing that the only one-year-old colt by Sham El Arab, Bahi Aljassimya, after winning his age class, also won gold in the championship. A surprise was the performance of Stanisław Sławiński’s stallion, Gall Of Shanghai, who, although in a strong type, entered the championship, starting from the senior stallion class from third place (91.28 points).
The power of Qatar
The organizer ended the event with a strong accent, which makes one realize the achievements and the current dominant position of Qatar in Arabian horse breeding in the world. It is enough to mention the stallions that were shown to the public in a special gesture of presenting the family of world champions. Five of them entered the Doha ring: Marwan Al Shaqab, Kahil Al Shaqab, Hariry Al Shaqab, Wadee Al Shaqab and QR Marc, only the last of which is not of Qatar breeding.
The Katara Festival shows what this event is supposed to serve – it is a fight to be the best and most important in the industry. The gathering of the best and most titled horses (the show turned out to be better lined-up than the one in Dubai), excellent setting and organization make KIAHF, next to the show in Menton, one of the most important shows in the world.
So here we have prestige and position on an international scale, and an impressive prize pool that attracts the strongest. We have a high-quality local breeding farm, very strongly supported by the state, thanks to which new studs are created, and new enthusiasts want to acquire Arabian horses, which serves the entire industry and local business.
In Qatar he thinking is global. At the end of this year’s edition, we heard comments about plans for the future and what should be improved in the next edition of the Festival. Meanwhile, we in our country have an absolute lack of forward-thinking. There is no responsible person in Poland whose knowledge and commitment would help make decision-makers aware of how important it is for the country, its position and prosperity to support and develop horse breeding. What in Poland destroys state breeding, i.e. its politicization, is the source of success in Qatar. So it is more about the quality of the political decisions with which the Qatari apparently have no problems, and which lead Qatar breeding to world heights. So recently, in the 90s, when Arabs were only rediscovering what Arabian horses are, we were a model for Europe and the world. Learning from the Americans, we were the best at it. Unfortunately, over the last two decades we have squandered these achievements, and today we do not even know whether the annual event in the form of the Polish national championship and the auction in Janów Podlaski will be held.
Comments for polskiearaby.com:
Tom Schoukens (Schoukens Training Center, Belgium):
Katara is a perfectly organized show. This festival is a very important and positive impulse for our entire industry. There are rare occasions when there are more than one previous world champion. Here we have a whole range of them from the past years. It’s quite unique, it sets the show at a very high level. At the moment, only the shows in Dubai, Menton, Aachen and Paris can match the horse level at KIAHF.
Fahad Aldubikhi (manager of Ajmal Stud, KAS):
Many of the shows in the Middle East are of a high standard. But this one is unique in many ways, a crème de la crème in the world of shows. We, as Ajmal Stud, came with only one horse, the mare D Haddeyah by FA El Rashe. She won her age class and won the Junior Mare Gold Medal. It is a great success for us, almost every judge chose her for the gold medal. Six months ago, we planned where our star would take off. Before coming to Qatar, she managed to win the January A-class show in Saudi Arabia, the PSAIAHF.
Malika Mohammed Al-Shemi (Media Manager of KIAHF, Qatar):
Our plan was to organize a show that was bigger, better and stronger than last year. We have certainly managed to implement this plan. Despite the fact that the world is raging pandemic, this year we managed to organize two large screenings and two auctions as part of the festival; art and horses. This year’s horse exhibitors managed to represent 11 countries. The plan is for the show to develop in the following years and become a bigger and bigger venture. We are proud that we managed to sign an agreement on the organization of the World Championships in 2023 and 2025 in Qatar during this year’s festival. As for Poland, it is an important partner and we do not reject the possibility of organizing a show in Poland one day as part of the Katara Festival. Your country is a serious partner for us in terms of the quantity and quality of Arabian horse breeding.